By Marc Villegas (11D)

Xavier School takes another major step towards becoming an eco-friendly institution as the school administration signs a contract with SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP) to shift 40% of the school’s energy consumption to hydroelectric power this August.

What events led to the switch?

For the past five years, the school’s Campus Operations office has been looking into various renewable energy sources. Initially, solar panels were considered, however, the development of the technology has made setting it up more complicated. Additionally, essential equipment such as batteries needed to be installed, further increase the expenses for the installation. While looking for more sources, the school noticed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Green Energy Option Program, which allows institutions to switch to renewable energy sources, including hydroelectric power which were already being generated by local energy companies.

“So, we pursued it. Just to explore it starting last January and then thankfully, it prospered very quickly—it progressed very quickly. So, there it is, we were able to launch it by August,”  said Fr. Ari Dy, school president, during an interview.

Why hydroelectric power?

Hydroelectric power was concluded to have been the simplest, yet most cost effective source of renewable energy compared to other sources such as solar panels. The logistics, preparation of proper roofing, installation and maintenance of solar panels, and other crucial steps were found to be complex. Hydropower, on the other hand, was simply switching to an alternate source of electricity that will continue to work via Meralco’s power lines. This means that the school did not incur additional expenses.

“It’s not a choice of one or the other, it’s really a matter of what’s available and what infrastructure the institution is able to accommodate,” Fr. Ari stated.

What were the concerns?

To Fr. Ari: “The idea was very promising, but we needed to study the numbers.”

The school needed to establish that the cost of hydroelectric generated power was equal to or cheaper than the electricity generated by Meralco. To ensure this, the terms of the contract between SNAP and Xavier School included clauses that will price the cost of energy to be the same or cheaper than its current energy cost.

The switch was initially scheduled to be in July, however, ongoing issues such as the Ruso-Ukrainian conflict and the rise in global oil prices forced SNAP to reevaluate its decision whether or not to proceed with the contract. Due to this, the switch was pushed back to determine whether the contract would be advantageous or would cause the company some losses due to the uncertainties. But, the company continued to establish communication, and eventually decided to push through with the agreement.

How does this contribute to Xavier School’s environmental advocacy?

The switch presents a direction for its future plans, as well as an opportunity to establish more ambitious projects to move towards eco-friendly operations. Currently, the school aims to also equip its San Juan campus with solar panels alongside the hydroelectric generated power. As for its Nuvali campus, the school plans to construct a solar-ready junior high school building as SNAP is not ready to supply the area. 

Fr. Ari emphasized that there are more concrete actions that the school can take apart from the continued spreading of various environmental advocacies motivated by Laudato Si, the pope’s second encyclical focusing on the “care for our common home.” Prior to the switch, some of the concrete efforts were the institutional ban on PET bottles and the ban on single use plastic containers and straws. However, he highlighted the need to establish major projects within the school, especially when comparing Xavier School’s efforts to the proactive efforts made by other schools.  

Fr. Ari also calls on the school’s environmental committees to promote ecological conversion especially in the lifestyle of students, faculty, and staff, such as the issues in the consumption or wasting of food and waste management. He said that, “it really has to be part of lifestyle. If you make it part of your daily routine, you really feel the impact. You see and feel the impact. It’s not something that’s abstract.”

Fr. Ari’s Message to the School Community

“I’d really like the school community to be more concerned about the environment and our impact on it, and to really experience that ecological conversion so that we make that sacrifice to preserve the God-given creations for the sake of others – for the sake of future generations. I think it’s a really concrete way to be men for others.”

Sources:

Xavier School. (2022, August 25). Renewable energy at Xavier School San Juan. 

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